Planting the Seeds of Change

“An eye for an eye is just wrong, Mom.”

My 12-year-old son was explaining his feelings on law and order from thousands of years ago. His homework was to determine if justice involved cutting off a person’s hand if he were caught stealing food.

“Why is it wrong? Wasn’t he wrong to steal?” I asked him.

“It’s wrong because violence is never the right thing to do.”

Sadly, his opinion would seem to be rare if watching TV is any indication. We live in a world where violence is entertainment.

News channels repeatedly spew out the same horrifically violent videos 24/7. Popular video games and prime time television shows glorify senseless violence. Social media rewards people who commit crimes by posting their images until they go viral.

We sit there glued to our screens like desensitized robots and eat it up, but we never fully digest it. We let it consume our psyches, allowing the anger and fear fester inside of us, eventually planting seeds of overwhelming sadness until we become the news we are watching.

Newsflash: we are each other. Nothing is isolated in this world. Everything and everyone is connected. Every human has a story, his or her own personal tragedies to overcome. How do we break the chain of negativity? How do we grow to become the respectful, loving souls we are all destined to become? Anger and sadness are genuine emotions but it’s how we transform that energy that matters in the end.

Every day we each have to dig deep inside ourselves to make a simple but powerful choice. Love or fear. The truth I know in my heart? Love is the only thing that will save us.

A few years ago, a holistic doctor was helping treat the anxiety and depression I’ve suffered off and on all my life. I’m an emotionally sensitive person so I absorb all energy, the good and bad. Unfortunately, my own mindset began to change to one full of fear. I started to view the world as full of evil, disrespectful, misbehaving people. It’s an eye for an eye, it’s a hellish, cruel world. It’s hopeless.

My doctor offered a simple suggestion that I immediately scoffed at: Stop watching the news. Stop watching the news? But then I wouldn’t know what was going on in the world! I need to know! I can’t be ignorant of the problems people are facing every day, can I?

Now that I’m getting older I’m finding he was right. For me the key is balance.  I do stay informed of things, of course, but I turn off the news more and more. I’m finding I’m less anxious or sad. Now I go out into the world more positive, more accepting, more open to trust. People pick up on my energy and they feel it too.  Small changes make a big impact in your life.

I still know what goes on in this world, I’m not turning a blind eye to injustice.  Of course things need to be brought to light in order for change to occur. But what are you doing in your life to make that change? Simply watching the news is not taking positive action. But how you act toward everyone you meet? That is how you make real change.  It’s not found in buzz phrases or tweets. It’s getting down to the basics of how we treat each other as human beings.

Now I focus on the good things that are happening and I let them feed my soul. I make it a mission to water those seeds. Contrary to what the news tells us, every second of every day people are doing good. They’re loving, helping and respecting each other. They’re listening to each other’s viewpoint without jumping on a bandwagon just to be popular. They’re showing the courage to actually practice what they preach on a daily basis with no fanfare, no immediate reward, no viral story blowing up on the internet.

Why can’t this behavior be the norm on TV? Because these stories don’t get the best ratings.

There are millions of respectful, loving people on this planet. I remind myself the news media is in the business of getting us to watch. They figured out a long time ago, humans are drawn toward violence — we love drama, we crave conflict. News outlets seek it out and they zero in on it. They replay the worst of human behavior for our endless consumption until it slowly poisons us.

Hope is not lost with me because I’m blessed to be able to tap into a deep well of boundless love and positivity. It’s found within my own kids. I raised them to treat everyone they meet fairly, to try not to judge anyone based on differences. To listen. To understand. To empathize. To respect. To accept. To love. These aren’t mere words, these are actual concepts we practice every day. As a parent, I’m cultivating in them the notion of honoring all life.

My son is now my teacher. I watch how he acts and I relearn how to behave myself. He shows me that talk is cheap. He stands up for people that are considered “different” because he is different himself. He is respectful, loving, and compassionate to everyone he meets. Everyone. I know he will be brave enough to do some good in this world. He will make a real change.

He chooses love over fear, so why can’t I?

Maybe someday, this will be considered popular behavior. Maybe someday, this will be the news.

 

 

 

 

 

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86 thoughts on “Planting the Seeds of Change

      1. Quite my experience. And especially awful must be Fox-“News” or reading tabloids …
        I read my local “quality” paper (well, it is not that high quality, it is local), and I listen to the radio news. AND I read The Guardian online, to have another source from abroad to check what the german media outlets are missing. You still get the news about Charlie Hebdo or the burning of churches somewhere in Africa (Republic of Niger – that is a country, just ONE G please!!). But you do not get those hatefilled commentaries. You get different voices. And you do not let other people’s choice of pictures burn themselves into your mind.

  1. Great post! Have you heard of the 1000 Voices of Compassion Project (Someone started it on Facebook or you can find more on twitter #1000Speak)? You might want to join in.

    I no longer watch the news as well, but I still care and hope to make a difference.

  2. Good points and very well said! I didn’t realize what an effect the *news* had on people, until I saw it affect some (journalisty) friends very negatively. One of them will never come out of it, now. You’re so right — it’s important, what we feed our eyes — it goes into our humanity digestive tract (good or bad) and that has an impact not only on us, but on all around us.

    1. Exactly, for me it’s striking the right balance. I need to know what’s happening in the world, but not to the point I’m drowning in it constantly. I had to make a conscious choice to focus on the good things, the helpful things people are doing every day that don’t get much news coverage.

  3. Beautifully put, Darla.
    I find that when it all gets to be too much, I shut out all the adults and focus on the kids around me. They are the living proof that human being are essentially good.
    I have a sign on my classroom wall: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

      1. And now that my kids are grown, I can go to them directly, telling them that I need a dose of their love and positivity. In fact, my sons are on their way here for exactly that reason!

  4. Sarah Uncool

    I never watch the news. I get my information on current events by word of mouth and if I find it interesting, I google the story and go to better sources than the major news stations. Ever since I was a kid I always found the news either tragic or boring. And journalism is losing its touch — it’s way more biased than it once used to be. Your doctor definitely has some sage advice. And don’t worry about keeping current too much, real news will always find it’s way to you.

    1. I can’t even watch the news much at all anymore. I will read newspapers or scan the major headlines to get the basics. The same goes for social media, I get burned out, between the facebook feeds about people’s “drama” and viral stories that glorify crime. It serves no real purpose.

    2. This is exactly what I do. If something is important, someone will be sure to tell me about it – and if they scoff because I didn’t already know, that’s no problem to me. My not knowing is a side effect of not having a head filled with unnecessary, ephemeral, ugly clutter. If an event matters, I’ll go online and search out different points of view and take the time to think about it. That puts me in control of how I react; I’m less likely to be manipulated by the media or the voices they choose to project.

    1. Thanks, Lily. I agree with you. I do know there are atrocities being inflicted all over the world. I understand we need to be informed so that change can occur, but just knowing about injustice does nothing in my opinion, it’s getting down to the basics of how we each view the world and each other in our daily lives. Once those things change, then maybe the anger and violence will be less.

  5. “Now I focus on the good things that are happening and I let them feed my soul. I make it a mission to water those seeds.” Such good advice and so beautifully said, Darla. Thanks for this uplifting reminder that there is much good in the world; we just need to recognize it and then, more importantly, be part of it.

  6. We listen to the news on the radio, but the hourly bulletins are all the same, so after a while we switch off. We’ve found that the World papers tell us more about what’s going on in the UK than the British ones. Going into the supermarkets, I look at the headlines, and most of the front pages are full of celebrity programme ‘trauma’, to which I couldn’t give a toss. I haven’t heard of or know these people and certainly wouldn’t to watch their antics and playing up for the TV even if we had one.
    The World is a screwed up mess, our enemies are now our friends, and our friends will be our enemy tomorrow. It doesn’t make sense.
    Your son is a credit to you. I hope he can and does make a difference.

  7. As always, well said.

    I subscribe to Xirius FM for my car, and in almost two years of searching, I have not found a news channel that isn’t biased and/or sensationalized. I’ve been listening lately to an inspirational speaker and wrestling with thoughts of my self-imposed denial and escape, but I agree that self-care and realignment are best. I haven’t found a careful, sensitive way to say this, but I also did a re-set on blog following and un-followed those that dwell on expressing their inner darkness and demons. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I’ve exceeded capacity.

    1. Oh, I love that “self-care and realignment”! Sorry you had to do a re-seton your blog but I totally get it. I have only so much space for anger that’s just for the sake of hearing your own voice ranting. This is why I’m so close to closing my Facebook account!

  8. Excellent post. It’s very true. I studied criminology a few years back, and they told us that fear of crime is hugely disproportionate to the chance of something actually happening, and that situation is just getting worse and worse, and of course this is all down to the reporting in the media. All that ever increasing anxiety amongst the population can’t be good!

  9. Right on, sister! (With my fist held up like they did in the 60’s).

    One of my favorite classes in college was the psychology of mass media (news, print advertising, radio, tv ads and shows). We looked at values portrayed in everything, and agenda setting done by the powers that be. Very eye opening to a 19 yr old.

  10. Great post. Half-way through I was thinking to myself, “turn off the news!” and then that’s exactly what you wrote. My ex-wife was a news junkie (and a Rush Limbaugh junkie too, ugh). Now as I’ve gotten older, I find that I need to be more careful with having a healthy balance.

  11. I don’t watch the news anymore and I feel a lot better, Darla. I cut cable, and I’m okay with it. I don’t miss it at all! I get my news from Internet sources. There are so many. I feel the same way about my kids and learning from them, stopping to see their viewpoint. It is like a fresh beginning. Kids have that innocence and a more hopeful outlook, and are always so honest about what they think. They come from a more pure, untarnished perspective I think, because they do not have all that interference that we have as adults. Great post!

  12. Nicely put. My wife is extremely sensitive (a professional requirement for her), and simply cannot be in the same room with me if I have the news on. I’ve been semi-addicted to the evening network news all of my life– a quaint remnant from when “Uncle Walter” and Dan Rather were guests in our living rooms. But now her sensitivities have affected me, apparently. I don’t want to see half limbs hanging off people as a result of a bombing. Ditto the graphic image of the poor guy who’s about to be be-headed.

    My own head isn’t in the sand, but more and more I have switched to newspapers. At least I can control the awful images.

    Thanks for writing this.

  13. pmahaney

    I think your right when you say the news glorifies crime. The world has always been a violent place. Sadly the news-media always saves their uplifting stories for the end of a newscast maybe as if to say, we want to leave you on this positive note. I often wonder what would happen if they did an entire broadcast dealing with nothing but the positive. Top of he news tonight helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, and our government actually worked for us today! Darla, keep planting the seeds of change in your boys, if nothing else, we can hope for that day.

    1. I know, can you imagine If they did one entire broadcast on the good things people are doing? The show would be cancelled due to lack of ratings. And thanks for your comments, I’m hoping my kids keep on teaching me about what’s right and good in this world.

  14. One of the reasons kindness is not news is that it happens all day everyday. It is violence that is so rare that it is shown on the news. If one watches the news they get a greatly distorted view of the world. I stopped watching the news decades ago and it has helped to greatly improve my life.

  15. But, but, but how will you know who the Vice President is if Jimmy Kimmel’s road producer is on his sh#t list and is sent to the far frozen lands and sticks a microphone under your nose in the grocery store parking lot?

    And if Joe Biden (he’s the Vice President, I learned that by watching re-runs of Jimmy’s show) was a stopped clock, would he still only be right once a day?

    I gotta go. It’s sunny and warm here in the land of wrinkles and old guys in Buicks and they keep the condo pool at 88. I’m doing some writing about summer time and need some inspiration. If that producer shows up ask him a question he can’t answer like when do moose (meese? mooses?) shed their antlers and watch him squirm.

  16. My stepping away from Twitter is like your stepping away from news. I’m still there a little, which has helped me see how constantly perusing for (sadly) more accurate news changed nothing save to make me more anxious. No, thanks! There’s so much more to the world than the sliver revealed there.

    1. It’s hard to strike the right balance, isn’t it. For me, I know my limitations now, I know when my psyche needs a break from the steady stream of horror they show on the news. I can be aware of it, but I don’t need to submerge myself in such a negative state all day, it will only serve to make me sadder and what good am I to anyone else if I’m depressed and anxious?

  17. Your son is onto something there. There is more good in the world than you know; just immerse yourself in it (not the TV) and all that good will flood your senses. People are inherently good, compassionate, loving. Think of all the beauty this planet has! When love rather than fear is at the foundation of living, only good things flow back in. Give it out freely — love or fear — and it finds its way back to you. Always. Cheers, Darla!

  18. I hope Liam Neeson doesn’t read this post.

    My Bride watches these horrible shows on TV. Criminal Minds. Major Crimes. Each episode more violent and graphic than the next. And it’s always women being victimized. It’s desensitizing. I excuse myself when she turns that garbage on and go to my corner to read British poetry and passages from the Old Testament. It makes me feel above all that.

    [Just kidding about the Poetry + bible. Said for dramatic effect.]

  19. I watched the news but when the same depressing thing is shown over and over and over I change the channel, new can be good but I don’t like watching things that upset me what is the point in me being upset

  20. Darla … I love your son’s outlook … and yours. I was in the news business for years, left it in 2003 to pursue teaching. There was much to be depressed about in the stories I covered in my courts and cops beat. When I found a positive story, it really lifted my mood.

    Several years ago, I also stopped watching the news (and TV, except for Project Runway). The first 10 to 15 minutes of TV news just seems to be negative stories. That does take its toll. I catch my news on NPR on my commute to work. When it brings me down, I just switch to music.

    Give your son and daughter a hug from me. Tell them to keep choosing love over fear. Someday, John Lennon’s vision might become a reality. 😉

    1. Thanks, Judy. I can’t imagine the stress you were under covering the news for your job. Music saves me too. It always brings my mood up and I feel less stressed than when I listen to the news too much. John Lennon’s Imagine and also George Harrison’s “Give Me Love” and “Isn’t It A Pity?” are songs that speak what I feel.

  21. Great post! You must follow Humans of New York it never disappoints to point out the good in people. My mother has me watching endless hours of Family Feud to avoid the news. I’m also highly sensitive to my surroundings and the news or worst … talk radio, have sucked the life right out of me on more than one occasion.
    Your son is a gem and I for one am glad he is our future!

    1. My mom loves Family Feud, she gets a kick out of the host, Steve Harvey, she loves him!
      I’m also very blessed to have my son and my daughter there to remind me every day how to live and how to love fearlessly.

  22. Your doctor gave you some good advice. It worked for me. I haven’t watched the news for several years now, and it has worked wonders for me. However, my Loyal Follower manages to keep me up-to-date on the crappiest stuff that he thinks I need to know.

    1. I’m so glad to know it worked for you too, Honie. I still manage to catch the headlines but I try not to wallow in the misery too much because it really does nothing for my struggles with depression and anxiety.

  23. I think a lot of what you say here resonates with a lot of people. Often, we do get bogged down and disheartened by what we see and read on the news. But one of the biggest and most interesting things consumers tend to forget is that “news” is called “news” for a reason. Stories are on the news because they are, by definition, unusual, uncommon, out-of-the-ordinary. The problem is that consumers have collectively internalized news to mean that they are the opposite. Be heartened by the seemingly sad shortage of “good news” on your television; it means the good things still win the day, and are so common that they don’t merit the distinction of being unusual!

    1. I love your comment — so true. It’s a very skewed perception of what really goes on. They’re in the business to keep you watching and they know that fear sells. I guess it took me a bit of stepping back and letting go of that negative “we’re all doomed” mentality to clear my head. I see now life is way too short to throw it away on fear and worry and there are so many compassionate good people all around.

      1. Well… that’s partly true, and I can understand why people feel that way. They do have to get people’s attention. But story selection is still about what’s unusual. One can still watch or read the news and be informed without having to feel like one is doomed. That part is a choice. The danger of not paying attention to news is that, in the effort to avoid the things that are frightening, we also avoid or ignore the things we really should know.

  24. I don’t watch much news. Not only is it always bad, but it’s sensationalized.
    When I wrote about my bout of depression, it had only lasted a couple of days and it was a direct result from the Oxy. (I found out from the nurse today.) It made me realize how awful depression can be. I wasn’t myself. Needless to say I will NEVER take Oxycodone again.

    1. Oh no, sorry you had that reaction to the oxycodone! Hope you’re feeling back to your old self now. I’ve had depression off and on my entire life, the worst was the PPD I had after my son was born. Unfortunately in my family it’s inherited, my parents both had it, one of my brother’s suffers from it too. I’ve learned to treat mine with exercise, yoga, meditation (and avoiding the news)

      1. I’m so glad you found some coping mechanisms which work for you! I don’t get depression, except from stupid Oxy, but when I’m down, I read or write humor! It takes my mind off my needless worries. Happy Sunday!

  25. Wonderful! This said it all, “Newsflash: we are each other.”

    I regularly turn it off, read my books/magazines, and blogs. Enough already – like you said, there are plenty of good people doing remarkably good things in the world – but – those stories are often the exception on the TV News, not the rule.

    Cheers!
    MJ

  26. I am with you on every word, Darla. I stopped watching the “news” years ago. I don’t even watch the Weather Channel anymore. And you know what? I still know what’s going on in the world. I still get the weather forecast. I’m just not panicked about it.

    My greatest teacher has been my dog Reggie. He had some bad things happen in his life but he never lets it get him down. He still loves everyone. A great life lesson for me. 🙂

    I like to focus on the good things people are doing in their communities, so I’ve made that part of my Shine series on the blog. I need to find more people to interview and get back to regular posts.

    1. Funny–even the Weather Channel is overly dramatic now! Everybody run! It’s The Snowpocalypse!!

      I’m so happy you have Reggie. Dogs are angels on earth, that’s for sure.

      And your Shine series is amazing and wonderful and all that’s good in this world. Love reading those posts!

  27. Excellent. I stopped watching the news about 3 years ago. Another fear and anxiety producing medium though, which I’m having a harder time quitting, is social media. I will go on a fast for awhile, and then find myself inexplicably pulled back in. Really learning how to block people and subjects, steer clear of energy zapping ‘friends’ and stop providing ‘too much information’ to others about my life has been a good start to feeling good and taking charge of what I allow to influence my thoughts. I love your blog.

    1. Yes, social media is quickly becoming another source of stress for me. If I’m on it too much, I feel mentally drained. The pseudo-drama and the need for everyone to constantly brag about their lives, it’s just very superficial to me. I am very close to closing my facebook account for good. I have to be honest with myself and realize I don’t really get much out of it anymore, aside from sharing photos of my kids with relatives (and I can always just email them!) Twitter is another thing I recently got back into and it’s fun but only in small doses.

      Thanks for your comments and I’m so happy you like my blog. WordPress is one of the few positive places left on the internet.

  28. While I don’t suffer from depression, I completely understand where you’re coming from, and I, too, began to stop watching the news years ago. I actually found a website called HappyNews.com filled with… HAPPY NEWS!

    I was raised to assess people on WHO they were, not how they were different, just as you’ve raised your son and it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve witnessed some horrific things in my life, up-close and personal, and despite what I saw, I was still able to remain optimistic and positive about life in general. Perhaps that has come to be because I “chose” to respond with calm and logic, rather than letting those brief moments carry me on a tide of adrenaline-fueled worry? Whatever the reason, it has worked.

    Good on you for learning from your son – he sounds like a wonderful child.

    1. I love it — “happy news”.com!

      Good for you for choosing to work through and overcome all the painful difficult times in your life. It’s something all of us are faced with at one point. I haven’t met a single human being who hasn’t suffered some kind of hardship or experienced pain or loss. We all have to make a choice, love or fear. Choosing love will help ease that past pain and hurt and we can begin to heal again.

      And I can’t say enough about my boy. He is my best friend, he is mentor, my inspiration. When people say “he must have an old soul” I’m convinced that he really does.

  29. I read the news, but rarely watch it… and I limit the reading too. My heart is too tender; I grieve too long. I also can’t help but wonder: if more of us said “we’re not watching this disturbing violence; share the good news too; we don’t need to be shocked…” Would the networks listen? Love the dialogue between you and your son.

  30. I have both a BA and an MA in Communication Studies, and yet I never watch the news. Or read newspapers. Or listen to the radio! Even though I deliberately shelter myself from the news media (including social media, for the most part), like magic, if I need to know about something that’s taking place in the world, I’ll find out! Seriously– if it’s that important for me to know about current events, someone will tell me. Otherwise, I’m doing just fine in my bubble of optimism and blissful ignorance, thank you. 🙂

    (And I completely sympathize with the sensitivity part. I tend to absorb other people’s energies as well, and for a long time, I felt like I wasn’t a “good citizen” if I wasn’t keeping up to date on the news. One day, a healer explained to me that I wasn’t serving anyone by watching the news and completely lowering my vibration because of it. Nor was I helping anyone by feeling hopeless or helpless about what to do about the problems in the world. There are enough people on this planet to take on the trusted “stay up on world events” tasks, he said– my energies are needed elsewhere. So no news for me!)

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